'We are not frightened, there is no anti-Semitism in India'

Terror bombing of German Bakery in Indian city of Pune has rekindled concern for safety of Israelis and Jews in subcontinent.

By HAVIV RETTIG GUR
February 15, 2010 00:08
2 minute read.
chabad house mumbai synagogue 248.88

chabad house mumbai synagogue 248.88. (photo credit: Amy Chung)

 
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The terror bombing of the German Bakery in the Indian city of Pune has rekindled concern for the safety of Israelis and Jews in the subcontinent, particularly after the November 2008 Islamist assault on Mumbai landmarks that included that city’s Chabad House.

Like the Mumbai massacre, Saturday night’s bombing in Pune was the work of Pakistan-based terrorist groups, Indian security forces believe. And like that attack, this one may have been intended to include the small Chabad House just down the street from the bombed bakery.

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“The head of police for our district visited us a few minutes ago, suggesting that it’s possible that the attackers were deterred by the policemen at our gate,” said Rachel Kupchik, who has run the Pune Chabad House together with her husband, Rabbi Bezalel Kupchik, for a decade.

While she insisted she had not heard the media reports suggesting the Chabad House may have been under surveillance by the attackers, she praised the local police for providing constant protection to the center “at their own initiative.”

The bombing will not scare them away, Rachel Kupchik added. “We didn’t come here to find a comfortable career. We came with our 10 children, leaving a community and a beautiful home in Safed, to be emissaries of the rebbe [the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson].”

A terrorist attack “can happen anywhere,” she said. “But our sense of security is strong and intact. The people here are good. I am as scared to walk around here as I am in Tel Aviv. Our children walk the streets freely.”

She insisted the bombing was is an aberration.

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“India is a country with absolutely no anti-Semitism. There never was, and there isn’t now. Unlike in some European countries, where you have to hide the fact that you’re Jewish, here in India being Jewish generates respect.”

The only change the Krupchiks are planning in their daily lives will be to redouble their efforts to reach out to Jews passing through the town, to build the local community and to do good deeds.

“We are emissaries of the rebbe, and we’ll act the way the rebbe asked: where there is darkness we will create more righteousness. [In response] to such acts, it is our duty to ask ourselves how we bring people to do good,” she said.

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